Berlin (dpa) – The Federal Government wants to respond to the war in Ukraine by increasing arms aid for partner countries to two billion euros.
The funds will mainly benefit Ukraine, as announced. Chancellor Olaf Scholz (SPD) requested the sum early on, it should be made available through the supplementary budget, Finance Minister Christian Lindner said on Twitter.
According to a government spokeswoman, the ministries concerned agreed two weeks ago in principle to substantially increase funds for the so-called upgrading initiative. Last week, the sum was set at a total of two billion euros. The federal government launched the upgrade initiative in 2016 to help partner countries in crisis regions to provide security themselves.
Shortly after the start of the war, the German government decided to support Ukraine with arms deliveries. So far, among other things, bazookas, anti-aircraft missiles, machine guns, but also vehicles, night vision devices and protective equipment have been delivered. In view of the expected large-scale offensive in the east of the country, Ukraine is also demanding the delivery of heavy weapons from the federal government.
However, the federal government has not yet made a decision on this. The formation of the two billion pot doesn’t say anything about that either. Greens and FDP are in favor of the supply of heavy weapons, the SPD is divided. Scholz hasn’t decided yet. He stressed that the decision will be taken in consultation with the alliance partners.
Meanwhile, criticism of Scholz’s journey and demands for concrete commitments for arms deliveries are not over. North Rhine-Westphalia Prime Minister Hendrik Wüst (CDU) told the Germany editorial network on Saturday that Germany had never been so isolated and apathetic in an international crisis. “The SPD as part of the traffic light close to Russia and the Chancellor in hiding isolate us in Europe and the world.”
Ukraine must not be left behind, this also applies to military support. “A stronger defense of Ukraine against Russian aggression also strengthens Germany’s security and prevents further escalation between Russia and NATO. This is how we ensure peace.”
Deputy CDU/CSU parliamentary group leader Johann Wadephul told ‘Augsburger Allgemeine’ (Saturday) that Scholz must finally show leadership and ensure Ukraine gets the weapons it urgently needs. The FDP and the Greens would be ready to deliver heavy weapons, Wadephul stressed and added: “If Scholz does not move, he must expect a request to do so from the CDU/CSU parliamentary group.”
The leader of the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, sees Germany’s international reputation at risk due to the ongoing arms supply debate. “The federal government is losing its reputation in Europe and internationally, with long-term damage for our country,” the CSU politician told the “Passauer Neue Presse” (Saturday). The EU is waiting for Scholz to make decisions. “The federal government doesn’t have to convince anyone in the EU, it has to finally lead.” However, the coalition in Berlin is “the brake”. Weber demanded that Ukraine receive the weapons it needs.
Support for Scholz
The deputy leader of the FDP parliamentary group, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, told “Bild” that it was not decisive whether Ukraine received German or non-German weapons. “What matters is that they get heavy weapons that they can use to defend their territory.” Meanwhile, Germany must secure NATO’s eastern flank and reinforce troops in the Baltic states.
Scholz’s backing comes from longtime SPD deputy Ralf Stegner. The “Bild” (Saturday) Stegner said: “I am happy that in Olaf Scholz we have a chancellor who – in matters of war and peace – acts with caution and with our allies, accepts his responsibility and does not care not exciting interviews or requests.”